Spencer looks to start trail head construction within two months

Published 12:07 am Tuesday, August 16, 2022

SPENCER — A long-anticipated trail project in Spencer is expected to be underway this fall after the town board signed off on a contractor last week.

The board approved Hall Contracting’s low bid of $754,410 for the trailhead project off the Rowan County side of Wil-Cox Bridge. The bid came in less than Bar Construction’s $900,050 bid with alternates included.

The base bids were closer, with Hall’s coming in at $585,200 and Bar’s at $621,000. The majority of the difference came when the alternate upgrades like a paved parking area and improvements to the plaza area were added along with contingency funding.

Spencer Special Projects Planner Joe Morris told the Post the town has about $197,000 additional funds to raise to cover all the improvements with no compromise. The project has been funded largely by major private donations. He said the town is looking to make up that difference with additional funding sources the town is in contact with, but the town could cut down on the cost of the project if need be via “value engineering” on the project.

One way to lower the cost would be to swap out the paved parking lot for gravel or cut out plaza improvements like pavers and retaining walls.

“We could lease those off,” Morris said. “But as I said, we’re hoping to raise some additional funding.”

Morris told the board the price, presented last Tuesday, is good for 60 days and the construction market is uncertain.

“Everybody has heard about supply chain, labor cost and fuel, and all that sort of stuff,” Morris said. “But, the way it’s been bid, if we had the funds available to us tonight we would do this and get all of this for that price.”

Alderman Steve Miller asked Morris if he is comfortable with Hall as a contractor for the project. The firm is based in Charlotte. Morris said the town has researched Hall and the company specializes in larger-scale infrastructure projects.

“They’re sort of new to the parks and recreation construction business,” Morris said.

He noted the architecture firm for the project, Benesch, as well as the landscape architect Jeff Ashbaugh, are working with Hall on another project currently. Morris said Ashbaugh spoke highly of working with Hall on the other project.

Alderman Andrew Howe made the motion to allow Town Manager Peter Franzese to negotiate a contract with Hall. He said Morris has continued to deliver and trusts him to continue to do so with this project.

Morris said the town is hoping to have construction underway within 60 days.

The trails will stand opposite to the Davidson County development on the other side of the river, though Spencer has described its project as complimentary.

About Carl Blankenship

Carl Blankenship has covered education for the Post since December 2019. Before coming to Salisbury he was a staff writer for The Avery Journal-Times in Newland and graduated from Appalachian State University in 2017, where he was editor of The Appalachian.

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